In this busy world, a world where it is increasingly hard to be accurately informed, and ridiculously easy to be gaslit, one thing never changes: there are some people all of us should know. I speak not of people famous for being famous. I speak not of violent felons made political martyrs, people unworthy of notice, to say nothing of emulation. I speak not of vacuous celebrities or dimwitted TV talking heads. I speak of people like Erik Scott.
July 10, 2021 marked the eleven-year anniversary of the murder of Erik Scott by panicky, undertrained Las Vegas police officers at the Summerlin Costco. I never met Erik Scott, but over many years of investigating his murder and writing and publishing the definitive book on the case, I came to know him well, which only exacerbates my sense of loss—and outrage.
July 10, 2010: Erik Scott and his fiancé, Samantha Sterner, were shopping at the Summerlin Costco in Las Vegas. Bending down to examine merchandise on a low shelf, his shirt momentary rode up, exposing his legally carried concealed handgun. This would have come to nothing if a cop-wannbe security guard had not chanced to see it. He called management, who spoke with Erik. They parted amicably, and Erik and Samantha continued to shop, two of hundreds of unremarkable customers in the Costco that day.
But the security guard, against store policy, called the Metro police—perhaps the most corrupt and dangerous police force in America–and there began a bizarre and deadly comedy of errors. Between the security guard, the call taker, the dispatcher and three undertrained, panicky cops, part of a wall of brown and tan (LVMPD uniform colors) that would soon number more than 60, including a canine unit, cadets and a helicopter, that hastily rushed to the Costco, Metro forces somehow got the idea Scott was a Green Beret–something he never said or implied–was threatening people with guns, was under the influence of drugs and was refusing to leave the store. They claimed that challenged by an officer pointing his handgun at Scott at a distance of six feet, Scott drew his handgun, still in its holster, and pointed it at him.
None of that was remotely true. Scott was never asked to leave the Costco, and never drew his gun. Yet even today, Metro apologists in social media and elsewhere continue to spout the false Metro narrative, a narrative that furthers the cover up of Erik Scott’s murder by three Metro cops. Sometimes the police do make deadly mistakes, and sometimes, they lie about it. Lies like this cry out for the truth. I had no idea I would be the one to tell the definitive story.
September 17, 2010: Bob Owens published his initial article on the Erik Scott Case at PJ Media. I had been a reader of Confederate Yankee—his then blog–for some time and a frequent commenter as well. As Bob embarked on his first AR-15 project, I provided advice and a friendship began which led to an invitation to guest blog. My first foray into the Blogosphere–and article on the Scott case–was inspired by Bob and by this first article.
As regular readers know, Bob committed suicide. He, like Erik Scott, was a friend I never had the opportunity to meet. I miss him.
Reading that article, my cop sense–like Spiderman’s spidey sense– tingled like mad. I knew only what the article contained, but everything about the case felt wrong. As I began what would turn out to be a seven+ year investigation, resulting in a substantial archive, I gave the Metro police the benefit of the doubt. I very quickly learned they did not deserve it, and I had to do something about it.
Erik Scott was an extraordinary man. Even as a child, he was high-energy, a self-motivated achiever, a natural, goal-seeking leader. In high school, he announced he was going to West Point, and he made it happen.
An extraordinary athlete, and precisely the kind of scholar/athlete our military academies seek, he did well, and became an armor officer, serving in M1 tanks. But with the end of the Cold War, the military was drawing down. He accepted an early out opportunity, moved to Las Vegas and did well in real estate during the last real Vegas estate boom–until it busted. He quickly built a career selling and servicing cardiac pacemakers, working at all hours of the day and night, even advising in the operating room. As I dug more deeply in to the case I learned he was respected by all who knew him, not only for his reliability and dedication, but for his character.
As I investigated the case as best I could–Metro wasn’t the least interested in disseminating the truth, and the local media essentially bought the Metro narrative, hook, line and sinker–I eventually became acquainted with the Scott family, and soon understood why Erik was such an extraordinary, honorable man: he got it from his parents.
As regular readers know, I was eventually able to obtain not only the complete Metro report—thousands of pages–which includes the transcripts of the farcically corrupt coroner’s inquest, and a great many other depositions and interviews, many conducted by Scott Family attorneys, which Metro never saw. My suspicions were confirmed. Metro was not only arrogantly corrupt, but incredibly sloppy, because virtually no one–including the local media–challenged them. It was worse that I imagined.
Three Metro cops murdered an innocent man in the middle of a crowd of some 200 people, and Metro, the prosecutors, and much of the Las Vegas establishment covered for them. William Mosher, a serial Metro killer, shot Scott twice, and as he fell, flat on his face on the concrete, Thomas Mendiola and Joshua Stark rushed up and shot him five times in the back and buttocks. Mosher had no cause to shoot, and Mendiola and Stark surely did not. The bullets they fired into Scott’s back as he fell, dying, to the concrete, were an egregious example of unjustified “me too!” shooting.
In 2011, Mendiola was fired–a rarity at Metro–for knowingly giving a firearm to a convicted felon. Rumors persist Mendiola’s crimes were far more voluminous than was publicly admitted. Mosher “retired” in 2017, far short of 20 year’s service, and apparently, Stark remains on the force. Stark is said to have shown some remorse, but never enough to tell the truth. To be fair, telling the truth in Metro, and Las Vegas, can be fatal.
After finally obtaining all the documentation, I spent about a year and a half writing License To Kill: The Murder Of Erik Scott. It was only my knowledge of proper police procedure that allowed me to wade though thousands of pages of poorly written police reports and related documentation and make the connections that prove the murder and the cover up. Metro’s own reports are the primary evidence, which is most likely why they shut up–officially anyway–in the hope the whole thing would just go away.
It took nearly as long to find a publisher. That’s difficult any time, but in these Internet driven days, even more so, but License To Kill was finally published in June of 2018.
Perhaps the most interesting fact about the book is it is Metro’s own reports that damn them. Knowing where to look, knowing what should have happened in any competent investigation, but didn’t in this one, I was able to piece together, through painstaking page-by-page examination of Metro’s incredibly shoddy report and the many related documents, what actually happened. That’s the story of the book, that, and the effect of Erik’s murder on his family, Las Vegas and American policing.
Though Erik and I never met, though I know him only through the words of those that knew and loved him, and through his accomplishments, I know him well. There are some people, gentle readers, all Americans should know. Erik Scott is one such. His memory should live, and I hope you’ll all have a hand in that.
Knowing Erik’s parents as I do, I have some sense of their anguish on the eleventh anniversary of Erik’s murder, but I can never fully understand the depth of a suffering that never ends. I do know the book, a fitting memorial to Erik, helped ease that suffering. In these times of policing turmoil, it also serves as a moral lesson about what happens to decent, honorable Americans when we allow our police forces, and politicians, to believe they are above the law–that they are the law. License To Kill can help Americans understand how policing should be done.
Some Metro sources—there are some honest people there—say Erik’s death, and our exposure of the cover up, have sparked at least some modest reforms. It’s hard to tell. The Las Vegas media, which occasionally mentions Erik, still buys the Metro Narrative, despite not long after Erik’s death, writing a comprehensive series proving Metro’s corruption, a major part of which was routinely, wrongfully killing innocents and covering up their murders. I’ve often tried to get them interested in one of the most newsworthy stories in Las Vegas history. They’ve never responded.
When the book went public in June of 2018, Metro apologists, including one of the two primary detectives–Barry Jensen–that covered up for the killer cops, did what they had done from the beginning: lied and tried to confuse the issue. On Facebook and anywhere else they could, they claimed the book was filled with lies—they hadn’t read a word of it—and continued to push the laughably false Metro narrative about what happened. Even honest Metro sources confirmed–quietly and off the record–Erik’s murder was widely known in Metro as a bad shoot. I calmly and forcefully recited the facts, even directing them to specific pages of their own official report, and they quickly dropped out of sight again.
They’d be happy if Erik Scott’s name was never again spoken. As long as Americans seek justice, that’s not going to happen.
The truth is most American police agencies are honest and dedicated to public service. Some, like Metro, are not. It is these agencies about which the public needs to know. It is these agencies that are more dangerous to the law-abiding public than to criminals. It is these agencies that must be reformed.
I knew I would never make any real money on the book, but I had to write it. Not many authors make a living at writing. Even though I no longer enforce the law for a living, my compulsion to do justice required no less. As with Marines, there’s no such thing as an ex-cop, just former cops carrying everything they learned and experienced to the grave. In a time when publishing a book in paper is very, very hard to do, I consider it nothing less than the hand of Providence it has been published.
I encourage you, gentle readers, to learn about Erik Scott–the SMM Scott case archive is here— and to contemplate why such a honorable, patriotic American was cut down by cowards, and why he continues to be slandered by those unfit to shine his combat boots. I encourage you to spread his story, as I work to do the same.
The book, a detective story as well as a story of incredible police corruption, can be purchased through the publisher–North Slope Publications–-or through Amazon. Reviews of the book on Amazon are also much appreciated.
Erik Scott is an American life worth knowing and celebrating, and worth a prayer, for him and those that love him, every July 10th. Not every anniversary is an occasion for joyful remembrance, but on the eleventh anniversary of his unnecessary death, join me in saying: Ave atque vale—hail and farewell–Erik.